Quality content is an ambiguous term because it conjures up different meanings depending on who, what and why. For example, car enthusiasts are drawn to Car & Driver Magazine for its unabashed discontent for under performing cars while car shoppers are drawn to AutoTrader for its reviews, advice and comparison tools.
Quality means different things depending on who, what and why. And by the way, Google is not really evaluating content quality since Google is not a leader but a follower. G sniffs around the web for signals that tell whether an author, brand, company or entity has a following, has influence, and/or is a leader.
Establish the purpose for creating content:
- Brand awareness
- Lead generation
- Product sales
- Reputation management
- A cause
Rather than thinking about a single piece of content, quality can be better measured over a body of work: a blog, YouTube channel, podcasts, or a book. And that leads to the first key performance indicator (KPI) for quality content: the mark of influence.
When an author, brand, company or entity (let’s just call this ABCE for short) has the mark of influence, you’ll know it instinctively – often because someone told you about them, but more importantly the content itself is enlightening and makes you think, “yeah, good stuff!”
The mark of influence for ABCEs:
People consume your content and take action
When people take action on your content and it delivers better results for their lives, business or community, it makes you an influencer. Those who took action trusted you enough to put your offer to the test – your content persuaded them to do something. And if the action taken got the result they expected or what was promised, you now have a bond with them.
Clay Collins is a master at this type of content. His LeadPages Software is money well spent, but he warms prospects to buy his product by providing them the code to implement what his product does right on your site (proven subscriber tactics to build an email list). It is Clay’s “try it to buy it” confidence – with no strings attached – that woos people to take action. And that builds trust, credibility, audience, customers, and of course influence for Clay.
Word of mouth both online and offline
Do your content consumers spread the word, especially offline? If they do, this is a clear indication of influence and it can show up in blog comments, social media button pushing and offline when friends tell friends about stuff worth checking out. It’s not easy to track the offline WOM effect but it is a powerful form of influence because it is probable that it’s from a genuine source – a trusted friend.
Sound Mind Investing provides free content about investing, but their paid newsletter recommends buys and sells of specific mutual funds based on defined investing tracks. I’d read many of their articles and heard about the paid newsletter online and believed it was a good value, but it wasn’t until a buddy of mine mentioned it in casual conversation that I decided to buy it.
Promote for the greater good of your community
The reason to create and share content is not just to promote your ABCE, but also for the greater good of your community. But when you don’t participate in opportunities to benefit the greater good of your community, it can be obvious to others. Even worse, if you become tagged as a “politicized” member of a community (because you don’t take time to listen), it can hurt your influence and be a road block to win the trust and confidence of the very people you are trying to reach.
Marketers and SEO people in particular can be self-centered when it comes to endorsing other professionals and their content. It’s often due to the scarcity mentality, people who see life as a finite pie: “if someone gets a piece of the pie, it means less for everybody else.”
The abundance mentality, as defined by Stephen Covey in Principle-Centered Leadership, is what marketers must foster: “there is plenty out there for everybody” and “flows out of a deep sense of personal worth and security.”
If you know someone who wants to do more for the greater good of the community you are a part of, check out Dana Oshiro’s Tedx Talk on community feedback.
A sense of timelessness
Will this body of work be referred to or remembered for years to come, or simply vanish from memory in a few months?
Consider these examples:
Stephen Covey’s books on leadership have earned him a timeless place, he is known as a thought leader on leadership.
David Meerman Scott’s book World Wide Rave was a hit with marketers and helped HubSpot become a well known name. When HubSpot launched they brought Scott on as an advisor to the company and his book is referred to today along with books he has published since then.
Who is considered an authority in your industry?
To sum up, quality content for a body of work must possess the mark of influence:
- People consume your content and take action
- Word of mouth both online and offline
- Promote for the greater good of your community
- A sense of timelessness
I see people talk about “quality content,” “useful content” and “engaging content” all the time. So I’m doing a series on quality content to get to the nuts and bolts of it, to disambiguate it. In other words, if it doesn’t have the mark of influence I’m not sure it’s quality content any more.
I’d like to get your thoughts on what I’ve uncovered so far and what you’d like to see next.